Overindulgent Parenting

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Signs you are raising a spoiled brat

As parents, you just want the best for your children. But as the aphorism goes, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Unfortunately, the modern parent has turned to ‘mollycoddling’ and overindulging. It starts by giving into their whining and pleading. Gradually, it grows into fits and disobedience when they’re told no or asked to do something. Before long, you’ve lost complete control of your tots. Time-outs and stern warnings don’t work, and you’re officially at the mercy of their whims. If you can relate, you’ve joined the vast, fast-growing club of overindulgent parents.

‘Overindulgent Parent’ Defined

These are individuals who’ve adopted the parenting style which places emphasis on ‘my child shall not lack’.  Researchers Jean Illsley Clarke, PhD and Connie Dawson, PhD, Dr. Bredehoft identified three types of overindulgent parenting in their book, ‘How Much Is Too Much?

  • Giving too much of anything – From treats and toys to playtime.
  • Soft Structure – Give little to no discipline by not creating rules or following through with established rules. Delivers A LOT of empty threats. And are also notorious for not assigning responsibilities.
  • Over-nurturing – Doing all your children’s tasks for them.

If you’re still not sure if you’re an overindulgent parent, author, Nina Garcia, adds a few other tell-tale signs in her book Parenting With Purpose. These includes:

  • You shield your child from difficult emotions.
  • You don’t teach courtesy or manners.
  • You’re inconsistent with expectations and consequences.
  • You need to bribe your child to get even the small tasks done.
  • You allow your child to disrespect you.
  • Your child has too much say in family life.

What Causes It?

No-one starts out to spoil their children. But as parents get caught in the rat race of being the perfect parents to the perfect kids, a couple of reasons push them to overindulge. For starters, it can be as a result of guilt for having hectic schedules and thus they overcompensate. Secondly, it could be the notion of giving their children all the things they lacked growing up. Lastly, parents confuse short-term happiness for emotional wellbeing. That, by not satisfying their wants your child will feel neglected.

What’s The Effect?

The danger of overindulging parenting is that it happens during the child’s formative years. These overindulged children develop a faulty world view where hardships don’t exist, and you always get your way.

They have a highly increased sense of entitlement and decreased levels of self-reliance so they lack basic skills to take care of themselves. Overindulgent parenting can also manifest in behavioural problems, as well as, difficulty in interpersonal relationships. As a parent, it affects your emotional health as all your energy is directed to serving them; which you soon discover doesn’t go away as they grow up. The fact is, both you and your children are better off when you parent effectively.

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